Simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris. Suicide bombings in Beirut. Stabbings in Israel. Evil, it seems, is wrapping its dark fingers around every corner of the globe.
So where is God?
Here's what Billy Graham has to say:
Q. Where is God in the midst of terrorism? Just look at all the wars in the world, or all the other terrible things that happen. They sure don't point to a loving God.
A. If we only look at the bad things in the world, we might conclude God doesn't care about us. But what do these wars and other tragedies point to? They point us to another reality: the reality of human sin.
I agree with part of what you say: Our world's wars and other horrors don't necessarily point us to God's love. If we only look at the bad things in the world, we might conclude God doesn't care about us.
But what do these wars and other tragedies point to? They point us to another reality: the reality of human sin. They tell us something is radically wrong with the world and that "something" was caused by our rebellion against God. When God created the world, it was perfect, and God pronounced it "very good" (Gen. 1:31). But then our first parents rebelled against God, and we've been living with the terrible consequences ever since.
But this isn't the whole picture! How do I know God loves us? I know it because Jesus Christ demonstrated God's love by coming down from heaven to defeat sin. By His death and resurrection, Christ defeated Satan and someday the final battle will be won and sin will be destroyed forever. The Bible says, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8).
Do you want to know if God loves us and if He loves you? Look at Christ. He loves you so much that He was willing to give His life for your salvation. Yes, we live in a tragic, sin-scarred world. But Christ came to make all things new and this can begin in your life today.
Q. Is God really in control?
A. Evil is real, and this world is often attacked by spiritual forces that are not from God but from Satan. Their authority is limited and temporary, but it is nevertheless real, and we see it on every hand.
You aren't alone in being puzzled about this question; theologians and Bible scholars have discussed it for centuries without coming up with a final answer. Remember: God is far greater than we are, and we'll never fully understand some things about Him until we get to heaven. The apostle Paul said, "Now I know in part; then I shall know fully" (1 Cor. 13:12).
The Bible tells us two important truths, however, that I urge you to keep in mind. First, it tells us that God is all-powerful. From the farthest galaxy to the smallest subatomic particle, God created absolutely everything in the universe—including you and me. He also created the laws by which the universe is governed, and the Lord Jesus Christ continues to watch over it from heaven. The Bible says that "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col. 1:17).
But the Bible also tells us another important truth: Evil is real, and this world is often attacked by spiritual forces that are not from God but from Satan. Their authority is limited and temporary, but it is nevertheless real, and we see it on every hand.
Can we completely understand these two truths? Some day we will, but not yet. In the meantime, however, we can trust God's goodness and put our lives into His hands, no matter what is happening around us. God loves us, and we know this is true because Jesus Christ died and rose again for our salvation. Is your faith and hope in Him?
Q. Why is there so much violence in the world?
A. If a vote were taken across the world today, almost everyone would say they want peace—yet everywhere we look we see hatred and conflict and war. Our times are almost like those of Isaiah's day: "The envoys of peace weep bitterly."
Why is there so much violence in the world today, not just among nations, but also in our communities, schools and even our homes? We could list many reasons: economic inequality, injustice, greed, racial conflict and so forth. These are certainly real, and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to combat them. The Bible reminds us that "He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord" (Ps. 33:5).
Our real problem, however, is far deeper than this—within our own hearts and minds. Have you ever thought about how peaceful our world would be if we truly loved others the way we should and weren't driven instead by selfishness, pride and anger? Jesus said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adultery, fornication, murder ... . All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21, 23).
This is why we need Christ, for only He can change our hearts and transform us into the people God wants us to be. Have you committed your life to Him? Then pray for our world and its leaders, and pray too that God will restrain the forces of evil. Someday, Christ will come again, and all evil will be destroyed, but in the meantime, make it your goal to live for Him.
Q. Will wars ever cease?
A. We should encourage every effort to bring peace to our world, and the Bible certainly urges us to pray for peace and support those who work for peace.
One reason the Bible commands us to pray for our leaders is so "we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1 Tim. 2:2).
But the Bible also warns us that we will never bring about a complete end to wars and conflicts—not until Jesus Christ returns to establish His kingdom of perfect justice and righteousness. Why is this? The reason is because wars don't come about just because we don't understand each other, or because some people have less than others. These may contribute to conflicts, but they aren't the basic cause.
Instead, wars ultimately come from within ourselves—from within our own hearts and minds. Pride, greed, envy, jealousy, lust for power—all these can lead to wars and conflicts, and they all come from within the human heart. The Bible says, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" (James 4:1).
This is why we need Christ, and why the greatest contribution we can make to peace is to give our lives to Him and urge others to turn to Him also. He can change our hearts, putting love in place of hate, and joy and contentment in place of envy and greed. Have you put your life into His hands?
Q. The only thing religion has done for the human race is cause war and conflict. How do you explain that, if religion is true?
A. I can understand your confusion because, unfortunately, religion often has been a source of conflict between peoples and nations, even to this day. However, instead of making you turn away from God, this ought to make you more determined to find Him.
Let me explain. The first thing you need to understand is that not everything that goes by the name of "religion" is true. In fact, much of what passes for religion can't be true—because it contradicts the very nature of God, which is love. Various religions also contradict each other—a clear warning that not every religion is valid or right.
Let me ask you a question: Do you think Jesus Christ encouraged His followers to take up arms and kill anyone who disagreed with them? No, of course not. When Peter took out his sword to fight those who had come to arrest Jesus, Jesus rebuked him: "Put your sword back in its place ... for all who draw the sword will die by the sword" (Matt. 26:52).
My prayer is that you will look at Christ—for He alone could say, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). He could say this because He alone was both fully man and fully God—God in human flesh. And He came for one reason: to tear down the wall that separates us from God—the wall caused by sin. Put your faith and trust in Him, for He alone gives us peace.
Never miss another Spirit-filled news story again. Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.
Three Summer Deals from Charisma: